I came back to work from my vacation a day early. I’m not aching to get back into the punishment of work. for punishment. I cut my vacation short for several reasons. (#1), I hate surprises. If there is anything happening, or any new issues, as a service coordinator, I want to put out fires for my service before they become a huge bon-fire. Riddled with ADD, if there was a huge pile of paperwork on my desk, I wanted to sort through it while I had no distractions. It is much more difficult to handle a problem or make calls while also trying to give adequate care to my patient. So coming in early, I can put out fires and tidy up paperwork and tomorrow (my actual work day) I can concentrate on patient care. Also, (#2) I have an appointment with my cardiologist. I’ve had some issues and was scheduled for a stress test. So, already being in the building, I might as well stop by and check in.
Once I got there and sitting down and logged onto my computer, a vendor showed up. He apparently had been waiting through my vacation to see me. He had some new product he wanted us to “trial” and possibly get it onto the supply list for preferred doctors. I exchanged pleasantries and told him that I would show his product to the surgeons that might be interested. He flipped out his card (an actual card-board stock card.) He also told me as he pointed at the card, “if you need me for anything, you can call me, toll-free, on the 1-800 number.” After he left my office, I thought, “how quaint, an actual card.” Then I pondered on what he had said. I mean, who has a 1-800 number anymore? What use are these numbers now? Who uses them anymore? . Now, I pay one small monthly bill and I can call practically anywhere on the planet for no extra charge. But back in the day, like when I was actually a kid, 1-800 numbers were a really big thing. Then, you were billed by the minute for any call outside of your town’s city limits. If you were to call across the country, or even out of the country, you were subject to incur a compounding of long distance fees. So if you could make a “toll-free” call for anything, to anyone outside of the county, it was a great thing.
I remember having a “party-line” where several other people were on my line and I had to share, or wait for one of them to end their call before I could make my call. Any one of them could pick up and listen in whenever they wanted. We had to dial “O” for the “Operator” whenever we wanted to call anywhere long distance. We also had a huge thick paper log of everyone’s phone numbers. It was called “The Phone Book.” It was sectioned off for stupid people. The white pages were phone numbers for individual people and business numbers were on the yellow pages. As a matter of fact, they send a “Yellow Book” to my front door every year. .. why? Does anyone still even use the phone book for anything other than as a door stop. Now you can look up any phone number on the planet with your smart phone.
Now, fast forward to present day, It’s amazing how easily we get use to this new technology… so much so that we simply take it for granted. Heck, after a careful thought while writing this article, I got a really good laugh. After living through, and experiencing, first-hand this era of early analog telephone communication, paying exorbitant fees for crappy service delivered through a real copper wire… and then being propelled into the cellular telephone world where practically anything is possible, I actually got angry at my phone service.
I actually made a call while on vacation, half way around the planet, while driving in a car, and simultaneously getting directions from a satellite in Geosynchronous orbit, to a map on my phone to a list of the top ten places to eat within ten miles of my current location. I drove through a tunnel, which ran through a volcanic mountain, and guess what?… My service was temporarily lost! Oh, the anguish! “The service is terrible here!” I shouted. Then I realized what I was doing and how far we had come in just my lifetime. My lovely wife laughed, saying, “how bout you just pull over and get direction the old fashioned way… from a human on the side of the road. You know, remember when we were young and dating? Remember when we would get lost while driving?” … as she put her arm around me and gave me a big kiss on the ear…